How first reported by Politico this morning Rep. Mickey Sherrill (D-Montclair) left the Blue Dog Coalition, a small group of centrist Democratic House members, along with six of her colleagues. On the other side of the split, which has been linked to a proposal to rebrand under a new name, is Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), who will remain with the coalition.

In a statement, Sherrill told the New Jersey Globe that the current narrow Republican majority requires “pragmatic leadership” from Democrats and that she will continue to fight for common sense policies outside of the Blue Dog coalition.

“I am leaving the Blue Dog Coalition to work with a broader coalition of leaders who are fighting for ordinary voters and the democratic values ​​I hold dear,” she said. “I want to thank them for their support over the years, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass smart legislation that helps lower everyday costs for American families, fights for reproductive health, and strengthens our national security.”

Behind Blue Dog’s demise is the fact that Cheryl and Gottheimer are now representing much bluer seats than those they first flipped from the Republicans. Sherrill, in particular, now represents a heavily Democratic district; her new 11th district would have voted for Joe Biden by 17 points, as much as he won statewide in New Jersey.

Both are also considered possible future gubernatorial or U.S. Senate runs, campaigns that will likely require them to defend their moderate positions — and caucuses — in the Democratic primary.

The Blue Dog coalition, the central of the three main ideological Democratic caucuses of the House of Representatives, was was founded in 1995 in response to the historic Republican wave of 1994. It once included dozens of conservative Southern Democrats, but as those members retired or lost re-election, it dwindled significantly.

Gottheimer and Sherrill joined the coalition in 2017 and 2019, respectively; they were two of many new members of the swing district coalition that moved the Blue Dogs in a more socially liberal direction while remaining moderate on other issues.

Thanks to Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections, the Blue Dogs reached 27 members in the 116th Congress, but after losses and retirements in 2020 and 2022, that number is down to just 15 at the start of the current Congress. Given their dwindling numbers, several members of the faction pushed for a rebrand, including Cheryl, according to a source familiar with the process.

The Blue Dog coalition, reformers argued, was seen by many as a holdover from a bygone political era when the House was dominated by conservative white men. After a study by a Democratic polling company, they decided to rename it the Common Sense Coalition to attract new members who held moderate views but were skeptical of the Blue Dogs.

But during a secret vote, the proposed changes were rejected. That led to the departure of Sherrill and six other members of the assembly, including Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia), close ally and friend of Cheryl. It’s unclear whether Cheryl and her former Blue Dogs co-stars will create anything new; Sherrill is also a member of the New Democrats, a much larger centre-left group.

Gottheimer, meanwhile, remains with the group, which is now down to just seven definite members. This is by far the smallest member it has ever been since its inception, although the remaining members plan to work on recruiting new members in the coming weeks.

“I remain committed to the organization’s goals of promoting fiscal responsibility, protecting America’s national security, supporting women’s health and supporting common sense policies such as protecting a woman’s right to choose, ensuring access to affordable health care, advocating for the workforce and supporting our veterans Gottheimer said in a statement.

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